Despite the flak from political parties and the civil society, parliament on Thursday gave the greenlight to the much-talked-about Election Commission formation bill.
Before the law was enacted, lawmakers of the BNP, Jatiya Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and Workers Party criticised many aspects of the bill and proposed amendments to it.
They proposed representation of MPs in the search committee, alongside taking public opinion on the bill.
There would have been more transparency in the search committee, had representatives each from the government party, the main opposition and the third largest party been included in the search committee, opposition lawmakers said.
Stating that this law will totally be in conflict with Article 48 of the constitution, opposition MPs demanded amendment to the article before passing it.
According to Article 48, the President shall act in accordance with the advice of the prime Minister except for appointing the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice, while the law says the President will appoint the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners, which is contradictory to the constitution.
But turning down all such proposals, Law Minister Anisul Huq moved the bill that later was passed by voice vote.
BNP lawmaker Rumeen Farhana said the law, which was enacted hurriedly without consulting stakeholders, is nothing but an eyewash.
Various political parties and civil society criticised the law. "It will not be wrong if we call it a law for the search committee formation," she noted.
BNP MP Harunur Rashid, "The government is making mockery with the people in the name of enacting the EC formation law."
The country's people are disappointed with the law and they do not want it, he added.
Jatiya Party's Fakhrul Imam said if this law is passed without amending Article 48 of the constitution, it will be conflicting with the constitution.
There are many anomalies in the law, he also said, adding that the law will be inclusive if MPs are included in the search committee.
Jatiya Party lawmaker Mujibul Haque Chunnu said, "We thought the EC formation bill would be democratic. The present Election Commission is 100% dependent on bureaucrats. Is there no one in Bangladesh who can be trusted except judges and bureaucrats? Why cannot we trust politicians or MPs?"
Workers Party president Rashed Khan Menon proposed reserving a place for a woman among the two civil society members of the search committee.
Besides, he proposed setting up a constitutional council, comprising the prime minister, chief justice and the opposition leader, to form the Election Commission.
At least the names proposed by the search committee should be made public and the president will later appoint CEC and ECs from them after considering public opinion, he added.
While refuting criticism from MPs against the law, the law minister said, "As I said earlier, the law was not enacted hurriedly as we did not want to enact it bypassing the parliament.
He accepted 22 amendment proposals and moved the EC formation bill in the parliament.
Fakhrul Imam of Jatiya Party proposed assembling the search committee within 15 working days instead of the 10 days mentioned in the bill. The law minister seconded the proposal.
What legal experts say
Jurist Shahdeen Malik said the law has been passed in the parliament and next election commissioners will be appointed accordingly. "But I am terming it the law for the result guarantee of the next election.
"The earlier EC was criticised and the people had no faith in that as they arranged biassed elections. The people will still mistrust the EC for the enactment of this controversial law."
Economist Professor Anu Muhammad said this is totally farce. This law is to legalise the ruling party's illegal doings. There is no public participation and people's opinion in the law.
"Actually, the ruling party has not come to power forcefully, not through votes. That is why they are making whimsical moves everywhere which is apparent in this law," he added.
EC law not accepted by the people: Fakhrul
The BNP on Thursday rejected the EC formation law passed by the parliament, saying it is not acceptable to people.
"The current parliament has not been elected with people's votes. This law is neither acceptable to us, nor to the people," said BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir while addressing a programme at the National Press Club.